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Monday, August 31, 2015

Rant #1,502: Monkee-ing Around

On Saturday night, my family and I attended a show at Westbury Music Fair--they can call it what they want, that is what it is to me--by the legendary Monkees.

It was just two of them this time--Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz--but you know what they say, two Monkees are better than none.

This time, they put on a show in the half round, meaning that half the seats were blocked off, and there was no revolving stage, so wherever you sat, that is what you got.

We were off to the side, so that is the view that we got.

We also got probably the most laid-back Monkees show I have ever seen.

Where once they played a a frenetic pace, this time, it was almost as if they had set up shop in your living room and played their hits, forgotten songs, and album cuts.

And the volume fit the scene, too, very manageable, I must say.

Both Tork and Dolenz looked as relaxed as could be, barely breaking a sweat on songs that they have performed over and over and over since the 1966-1968 heyday of the band.

They did the perfunctory "I'm a Believer," "Pleasant Valley Sunday," and yes, they did "Daydream Believer" sans the departed, but far from forgotten, Davy Jones.

They did plenty of Mike Nesmith numbers, including "The Girl I Knew Somewhere."

They also did some forgotten songs, like "D.W. Washburn," a great tune that pretty much ended the Monkees string of American hits way back when. They rarely perform this song, so hearing it was a treat.

Otherwise, with monitors all about pretty much dispensing the history of the band, the chatter was kept to a minimum this time around, and musicianship was in force.

The duo even did "That Was Then, This Is Now," their hit from 1986, but honestly, most people were there to hear songs like "Last Train to Clarksville" and "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You."

The crowd, which pretty much filled up about 90 percent of the available seats, was very appreciative of the duo and their backup band's efforts, and it was a good time had by all.

What is next for the Monkees, with the 50th anniversary of their debut due next year?

I have a couple of thoughts on this.

First, I think that next year will be the FINAL Monkees tour. I think that whether it will be three or just two, without Davy Jones, it just really isn't the Monkees as we remember them, and once the 50th anniversary is over and done with, that will be that.

That doesn't mean that some conglomeration of Dolenz, Nesmith and Tork won't tour together in the future, it will just mean that they won't do it as the Monkees, per se.

Second, I expect next year to be a big year for Monkeedom. It is starting already, with Dolenz's appearance on "The Tonight Show" later in September.

I think a lot of stuff is going on behind the scenes now, and the three remaining members will be much more high profile in 2016 than in the recent past.

And you never know, they may have worked out something with Jann Wenner to finally get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Anything is possible in 2016.

But right now, if the Monkees sashay into your town on this latest tour, spend the money and take them in.

I don't think you will be disappointed in the least.

Classic Rant #154 (December 16, 2009): Peace and Quiet

The House of Representatives voted yesterday to level off the increases in volume that are heard during commercials.

And to that, I say, "Hooray!"--but very softly.

The bill, approved by a voice vote, is aimed at stopping TV ads from playing louder than the programs they run with.

Rep. Anna Esboo (D-Calif.) drafted the measure after she found out that it was a common complaint with the Federal Communications Commission.

I have noticed that the ads on many stations get so much louder that they are probably at twice the sound level of the shows they are supporting.

And during the holiday season, there are more of them.

I guess this is to get your attention, and if that is the intention, then they get mine. However, I don't think that they are achieving the purpose intended, because I just turn the channel.

I guess I don't like being yelled at, whether it is in person or on TV.

And have you noticed that DVDs also increase the volume when they are trying to sell you something?

I have rented and purchased several DVDs where you literally have to adjust the volume during the commercials many of them force you to watch before you get to the film. Once the film comes on, you have to increase the volume.

I am for anything that makes TV viewing quieter, and I can tell you, ads that increase the volume are a complete turn off to me.

And that's exactly what I do with them--turn them off.

Now, if we can only get some legislation to remove annoying personalities from the TV airwaves, that would really be something.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Rant #1,501: Black and White

The senseless murder of those two reporters in Virginia is being looked at the wrong way by prominent people in our country.

It was not just another matter of needless gun violence, but more importantly, it was a hate crime.

Why our legislators are jumping over this facet of what happened the other day is beyond me ... but maybe not that far beyond me, where I cannot understand what a double standard period we are going through right now.

Yes, the shooter was right, he was a powder keg just ready to boil over.

He was a former reporter for the same station that the two he killed worked for, but had had work problems, related to working with others and also racial baiting.

He had had similar problems elsewhere, filed suits related to discrimination elsewhere, and every one, with the exception of one, was thrown out by whatever court legislated over them.

He also just happened to be black and gay.

He constantly claimed that he was the real victim in each instance, because of his color and his sexuality.

And when he couldn't take it anymore, he praised the depraved students at Columbine, and than did his own thing, ambushing two innocent, young, and just so happens, white news people, and nearly killed a third person, the person, who just happened to be white, who was being interviewed.

And yes, he did claim that he was starting a race war.

Unfortunately, the only "race war" he started was nudging the two snails--blacks and whites--to see who can go slower in recognizing what this incident was, a clear racially motivated hate crime.

Yes, our president brings up that this is another notch in the gun violence that is sweeping our nation, and he is not wrong in that assertion.

But he, as usual, is skirting the main issue, that with all the racial elements to the case, this was a clear hate crime, and yes, I do believe that the silence of our nation's leaders on this facet of the crime--the main facet of the crime--does show that there is a double standard in place in our country, one perpetuated by our president and others who have the power to see it for what it is, but basically are walking around pouting, but doing nothing else.

Although I hate to compare one horrific tragedy to another, we only have to go back a few months in time to the church killings, where nine innocent people were gunned down by a lunatic who spouted anti-black, anti-Jewish, and neo-Nazi thoughts when he did what he did.

The nation was up in arms about this incident, the heinous nature of it, as well we should be.

A church is supposed to be a sanctuary for thought, discussion and prayer, not used as a shooting range.

And the uproar led to the Confederate flag being removed where it still blew in the wind, another level of "black lives matter," and an outcry that was expected for such a terrible tragedy.

Now we have the current tragedy, and all I hear is silence.

I don't hear our leaders saying anything about the racial nature of this crime, and I don't hear anybody wanting to ban the multi-colored gay flag.

I don't hear anybody saying "white lives matter," and I don't hear any of our supposed leaders from the black community coming out and making forceful comments on this situation.

Nor do I see white people, fed up with what they have witnessed, looting stores and destroying neighborhoods.

What does all this amount to?

The powder keg of racial violence that we now live in is happening under the watch of a president who knows he is going to get a bye in the history books because he is a trailblazer, and his inaction on such matters only makes many people even angrier than they already are.

His inaction on the racial aspect of this case simply pours gasoline on it, and makes this that much more combustible.

And his brethren, the very people we elect to office to represent us, do nothing, following our president, and they are just as culpable.

When is this country going to understand that all lives matter, whether you are black, white, brown, green or purple?

And we are not hearing that from the top on down, and so exists a double standard.

Where are the Sharptons, the Jacksons, and all the other race baiters on this unfortunate event?

They are sitting home, waiting for the next incident that they can hang their hats on, simply because they are getting a bye too, because we are in a period of white guilt that the PC Police created.

Sorry, I have no guilt, but those that say and do nothing, and have the power to do more, are as guilty as our president is of setting racial fires.

And sorry, folks, that is just plain wrong.

And what about the public, people like you and I?

We are just as wrong, too, because we buy into this nonsense, and don't hold these officials accountable for their actions.

Heck, if Facebook is a barometer of anything, then yesterday, the day after the latest tragedy, I saw more race baiting posts than I have ever seen against whites, posted by people who supposedly have brains in their heads.

I, personally, even questioned one poster, who had put up about three or four of these things within a short span of time. I asked her if she, a proud woman of color, had had the door slammed in her face by a white male during the day--why so many posts like this?

Silence. That is what I got. Silence.

Speak to you again on Monday.

Classic Rant #153 (December 15, 2009): Marriage Is Really Good For You

Well, I just knew it. That's why I did it twice.

According to a Reuters report, a major international study found that marriage reduces the risks of depression and anxiety, but these disorders are more likely to plague people once the relationship is over.

The study was recently published in the British journal Psychological Medicine. It was conducted in association with the World Health Organization (WHO), Harvard University and a number of other international organisations.

The study of 34,493 people across 15 countries was led by New Zealand's University of Otago, and is based on the WHO World Mental Health (WMH) surveys conducted over the past decade.

It found that ending marriage through separation, divorce or death is linked to an increased risk of mental health disorders, with women more likely to resort to substance abuse and men more likely to become depressed.

The study found that getting married, compared to not getting married, was good for the mental health of both genders, not just women, as previous studies had found.

However, the study found that men are less likely to become depressed in their first marriage than women, a factor Scott said was probably linked to the traditional gender roles at home, as other WMH surveys have shown that as women get better educated, depression rates tend to fall.

The other gender difference the study found is that getting married reduces risk of substance use disorders more for women than for men. This may be explained by the fact that women are usually the primary caregivers for young children.

However, the downside of marriage, the University of Otago study shows, is that ending it has a negative impact on both genders.

I guess the Tiger Woods of the world should pay great attention to this study. Fooling around like he did can not only harm his marriage, but it could lead to other problems for his wife and for himself.

My experience was that once I got it through my head that my marriage was over--and it took some time--I was ready to move on, and I did.

I met the greatest woman in the world, and she stuck by me though thick and thin. We have now been married for more than 16 years, have a great son (to go along with my great daughter from my first marriage), and our union is rock solid.

We have a mutual love and respect for one another that makes our marriage a terrific one. Whenever I see her after a day of work, or on the weekend, I just glow. I know how lucky I am to have this person as my wife.

Again, the Tiger Woods of the world, and all the other philanderers of both sexes, should really examine what they are doing when they get involved with another person, because when you say "I Do," it really means that.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Rant #1,500: Rant #1,500

Yes, quite the original title, I must say.

We have reached 1,500 posts, but in actuality, it is probably a couple more than that, because some posts I have not numbered.

There was also a numbering problem, caused by me, but I do believe 1,500 is the correct amount of numbered posts I have made.

In 2009, I was getting frustrated with simply writing what I had to write about at work.

At that time, I was at my place of business 13 years, and writing about the same stuff over and over and over again was starting to get to me.

So I had this idea that I could still write for the masses--whether it was two people, 22, 222, or 2002--but do it in a different form.

Back then, the blog was starting to emerge as a viable option for many people to show off what they knew and what they believed in, so why not me?

And I did it, kept it active--five days a week most of the time--and kept it true to myself.

I have found a lot of people don't care for the views I have, but that is fine.

I never said I was right or wrong, but this is what I believe in, so take it at that.

The blog is read by people across the U.S. Don't be fooled by the paucity of replies to the blog. Plenty of people read this each day, and I have various statistics that only I can see--as the administrator of this blog--to check this out.

In addition, as many of you know, I publicize the blog on Facebook, too, and a lot of people are more comfortable with talking about the blog on that forum than they are here.

That is fine.

Look, for my money, nobody has to read this, it really is being used by me as an outlet to vent and talk about things I want to talk about.

But I am happy that people across the country are reading it.

Several months ago, we were hacked, and I had to start this second site.

Once you hear the word "hacked," it sends shivers up people's spines, and that is why readership of this blog is down. People simply do not want to open themselves up to being hacked, too, so they stay away.

Believe me, I understand.

That is why I run a classic blog piece each day, because eventually, I am going to get rid of the original blog, and have everything here in a safer environment.

Anyway, 1,500--not bad at all, when most blogs have a couple of posts and then die a quick death.

I have written about everything here--from people I consider to be boobs to the actual thing, and everything in between--and I will continue to do just that here.

I see no reason to let up, so this blog will be around for the foreseeable future.

And I thank you for visiting here.

You don't have to agree with me on anything, but at least you are hearing me out.

So congratulations to me on reaching #1,500.

Yes, I am a bit proud of myself that I have kept this thing going.

And most importantly to me, it has been fun.

I hope it has been fun for you too.

Speak to you again, tomorrow, for Rant #1,501.

Classic Rant #152 (December 14, 2009): It’s Hanukkah (Part 2)

Yes, it is Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. Tonight is the fourth night, so by tonight, the eight-day holiday is half over.

Unfortunately for some, the holiday was over a long time ago because it really never began, doesn't exist, and doesn't need to be celebrated.

I am talking about the vandals who routinely desecrate menorahs around the country. It seems a hotbed of this type of behavior is found in my own backyard in Suffolk County, New York.

Yes, the neighboring county to mine (I live in Nassau) routinely has a number of desecrations each year, and this year is no different. Several were reported over the weekend, and I know that before the holiday is out, there will be several more.

Beyond anti-Semitism, I believe this type of vandalism is perpetuated by the belief by many ignorant people that Hanukkah is a second- or third-rate event, simply Jewish Christmas. Why should these symbols be up when there are symbols of Christmas that will cover all of these bases?

This is perpetuated by the media, who cover Hanukkah barely, and when they do report about the holiday, it is as if it were an alternate celebration. I, personally, have taken to task a local columnist for Newsday who last year actually characterized the holiday using those words, and she does it ever year with no reprisal. I didn't bother this year. Why should I waste my time?

Also, famous Jewish personalities are torn during the time of year. Many refuse to exhibit their Jewishness and would rather show how "homogenized" they are into the mainstream. This is particularly prevalent with musicians and singers, including Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow and the like, who record Christmas albums but do not acknowledge the fact that they are Jews.

This year, Bob Dylan has joined that group. He wavers between being Jewish and not being Jewish on almost a yearly basis, so this LP is really no surprise, but it is disappointing nonetheless.

Yes, I know that Irving Berlin and Mel Torme set the tone for this type of "from the outside looking in" behavior, but heck, these are celebrated singer/songwriters--if they can write songs about Christmas, couldn't they do the same for Hanukkah?

The major TV networks really don't even mention Hanukkah in their programming--when was the last time you saw a Hanukkah special on a major network?

Several department stores--including Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer--used to have an all-inclusive "holiday" atmosphere in their stores and in their advertising this time of year. A year or two ago, under mounting public pressure, they went back to a wholly Christmas program.

You can look at this two ways. The major holiday this time of year is Christmas, and just like Hanukkah isn't the Jewish Christmas, well, Christmas is not the Christian Hanukkah. I understand that. Majority rules, and certainly, more people are non-Jews than they are Jews.

But I feel that there is a bit of anti-Semitism involved here too. Why even bother with Hanukkah? It doesn't count, especially in relation with Christmas.

And don't get me started on Kwanzaa. To link Hanukkah and Kwanzaa together on the same plane is like linking the Yankees with a sandlot team. Sure, they both play the same game, but on way different levels.

There is nothing wrong with Kwanzaa, and for those that celebrate it, I wish them a happy holiday. However, don't equate a holiday that has been on the books since the 1960s with one that has been in existence for thousands of years.

Anyway, in this politically correct world, we supposedly accept all creeds, colors and beliefs, but do we really?

I feel this more during this time of year than any other. When my son was little, he always asked me why they didn't have any Hanukkah shows on TV, and it was really hard to provide him with an answer that he could understand.

Heck, even as an adult I don't understand it.

When I have relatives--Jewish relatives--who send our family Christmas cards, I know that something is very wrong ... very, very wrong.

This type of behavior only feeds into the vandalism, making it OK to desecrate symbols of other religions, because, heck, Hanukkah doesn't count.

And the wishy washy attitude of public officials on this is particularly disarming.

I look forward to the rest of Hanukkah, and also to Christmas. Both holidays have co-existed for thousands of years, but it is time that the ignorant became enlightened.

Tolerance is golden during this time of year. Let's all practice it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Rant #1,499: Goodbye, Wrangler Jane

Yes, several days have passed since it was announced that actress Melody Patterson had died, but due to circumstances, I never got to talk about it here.

To many, she was nothing but a footnote, one of those 1960s actresses, like Yvonne Craig, who had a long list of accomplishments in her day but had faded off the face of the earth in recent times.

But baby boomers will always remember her as Wrangler Jane Angelica Thrift, the comely, sex-starved gunslinger from the classic TV show "F Troop."

"F Troop" was one of the funniest shows of the era, a send-up of Civil War era America, right on a military base, the fictional Fort Courage.

Captain Parmenter, played by Ken Berry, ran that base, and he was as inept as could possibly be. And he was kept in the dark by Forrest Tucker as Sgt. O'Rourke and Larry Storch as Corporal Agarn, who played pow-wow with the Hakowi Indians and ran businesses on the side through O'Rourke Enterprises.

How did Wrangler Jane fit into this?

Well, way before women's lib, she was the finest shot on the base, and she had her eyes on the Captain, and just about every other part of her body and mind, too.

But the show ran just short of being leering, and Wrangler Jane was every bit the lady, too.

Patterson played the character to the hilt--or to the hilt that a 1960s sitcom would allow--and even though the show ran just two seasons on ABC, it became a classic in reruns, and she will forever be Wrangler Jane to us.

However, the back story is even more interesting than that.

Patterson somehow passed herself off as being of age--18 years old--to get the part.

However, when she won the role, she was just 15 years of age.

The story goes that she had, let's say, blossomed kind of early in her life, and by 15, she looked every bit of, well, probably at least 20 years of age, if not more.

She lived this kind of white lie throughout the show's run, and well, it is kind of strange that the role she had had her rolling her own goo goo eyes at Parmenter even though she was barely a teenager in real life.

This came out years later, and supposedly she apologized to the cast, which had absolutely no idea that the sex-charged Wrangler Jane was as young as she was in real life.

If I remember correctly, Ken Berry was taken aback by this, saying that if he knew then what he knew now, he didn't know if he could have played his role opposite Patterson with the same verve that he did back then.

I mean, heck, she was just 15 years old--he was in his 30s.

Kind of robbing from the cradle, in a TV sitcom sort of way.

Anyway, Patterson appeared on numerous shows in the 1960s, including "The Monkees," usually playing a vamp, based on her looks. But in real life, she was barely in her teens when playing these roles.

She later married actor James McArthur, and lived much of her life in relative obscurity in Hawaii, emerging every now and again in nostalgia shows, often meeting up with her former "F Troop" cast.

The way her death came out was also bizarre.

It came out that she had died, but that was pulled back, and reports were that Larry Storch was actually the one who had passed.

I mean, he was 92, she just 66.

But when it did come out that it was Patterson that died, the reason for death was, and still is, kind of bizarre: total organ failure.

She had lived in a nursing home, evidently, and had been ill for some time, but nothing more had been released on her cause of death.

Whatever the case, her work on that show and other shows will live on forever, and at 66, she died way too soon.

Rest in peace. You will always be Wrangler Jane to the baby boomer generation.


Classic Rant #151 (December 11, 2009): It’s Hanukkah!

This has been a bizarre week, to say the least.

We have the continuing Tiger Woods saga, which shows no signs of stopping. It seems that every day, a new revelation comes out. The latest is that among his “harem” of lovers were several porn stars. And how come every woman that he allegedly slept with wants to talk about it?

And then comes my personal saga, with my doctor making national headlines for selling painkillers to undercover cops at his practice, which is a few yards away from the high school. You just don’t know who to trust nowadays, and this is a person I certainly put a lot of trust in. I am still flabbergasted about his entire mess.

And then we have those two female teachers who decided to get conjugal at the school that they teach in. If this didn't satisfy every young male fantasy, I don't know what could! And yes, both have tenure, so I wonder what New York City Schools are going to do with these two over-sexed educators?

Well, I am wondering what else can happen this week—but I am heartened by the fact that one of my most beloved holidays starts tonight.

At sundown, the celebration of Hanukkah begins. To those who don’t know or don’t realize it, Hanukkah is not the Jewish Christmas—it just falls out nearby to the Christmas celebration in December (most of the time; sometimes it is in November based on the Jewish calendar).

Like Christmas, Hanukkah has its roots in religion--we sometimes forget that, don't we?-- and the history of that religion, which goes back thousands of years. It's not just geared to gift giving, although that is part of it.

The most popular religious symbol of the holiday is the menorah. It contains nine candles. Eight of the candles signify the number of days that the original candelabra burned in the Old Temple. The story is that there was only a thimble-full of oil in this original lamp after the Temple was destroyed, and based on this lack of burning fluid available, the menorah could not have burned for eight days—but it did.

This signifies something of a miracle, and it also symbolizes the hope and belief in God that Jews have.

The ninth candle is to light the other candles during the eight-day celebration.

We give out gifts, one a day, and we eat delicious foods like potato latkes during this holiday. We spin the dreidel, which is something of a minor betting game where participants pick the symbol that the dreidel, or top, will land on. The winner gets whatever was bet.

The gifts are supposed to be small, like a couple of pieces of chocolate, some minor cash, or an apple. But like many Jews, we go all out during this holiday, and yes, I bought my son Beatles Rock Band this year.

So with all the nonsense going on, my touchstone this week is Hanukkah. Christmas is a great holiday, but for me, it is simply a day off.

Hanukkah is my holiday, and with a week like this, I personally need some nice things to happen to my family and I.

And the gifts are nice, even if my mother still buys me some dress shirts and pants for the holiday, just like she did when I was five years old.

Oh well, tradition does not change, and neither does Hanukkah.